San Francisco, CA – Almost 20 San Francisco police officers, deputies, and firefighters are facing unpaid suspensions after they refused to disclose their vaccination statuses to their departments.
Eight San Francisco police officers, two sheriff’s deputies, and seven firefighters received letters from their department heads that warned of impending disciplinary action, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“The health and well-being of city employees and the public we serve are top priorities during our emergency response to COVID-19,” the letter read, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
“Your failure to comply with the vaccination status reporting requirement endangers the health and safety of the city’s workforce and the public we serve,” the letter continued.
San Francisco was the first major city and county in California to create vaccination requirements for all of its employees, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Under the guidelines, most employees will have 10 weeks to get vaccinated after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) grants approval to one of the vaccines, with those working in higher-risk settings on an accelerated schedule.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was approved by the FDA on Monday.
All of the city’s employees were required to report their vaccination status by Aug. 12, the Los Angeles Times reported.
San Francisco Department of Human Resources Policy Chief Mawuli Tugbenyoh said Friday that almost all of the city’s 36,000 employees had complied with the request and the data showed 90 percent of city workers were already vaccinated.
However, Tugbenyoh said that those employees who failed to report their vaccination statuses were facing unpaid suspensions, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“These suspensions are moving forward as a last resort,” he warned. “We do not wish to move forward with discipline on any employee, but our No. 1 priority is the health and safety of both the public and our workforce. Unvaccinated individuals pose a safety risk to both.”
Tugbenyoh said that although the city had recommended the employees be suspended, it was leaving the final decision on discipline up to the individual department heads to determine, the Los Angeles Times reported.
He also said that suspended workers would have an opportunity to appeal.
The human resources boss said that individual exemptions for religious or medical reasons would be considered, the Los Angeles Times reported.
San Francisco County is one of the most highly vaccinated areas in the state, with more than 78 percent of residents having received at least their first dose of a vaccine.
But the San Francisco Deputy Sheriff’s Association said earlier in August that many of its employees would retire or quit if they were forced to be vaccinated to continue working for the agency, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The union that represents the deputies said that 160 out of 700 deputy sheriffs have not been vaccinated.
The group said those deputies “prefer to mask and test weekly,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
At least one employee – firefighter Eigel Qwist has filed a lawsuit against the city, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
New San Francisco restrictions will require proof of vaccination to enter indoor businesses like bars, restaurants, museums, gyms, and clubs, KGO reported.
“We believe that the momentum is in the direction of requiring vaccinations, you won’t be able to go to a restaurant. Why should you come to the Exploratorium and have a different set of rules?” Exploratorium CFO Laura Zander asked.
But the issue is causing controversy in numerous areas across the state and nation.
The Los Angeles City Council recently voted to require vaccinations for city employees and said they will no longer allow them to opt for testing in lieu of the vaccine, the Los Angeles Times reported.